Sunday, May 08, 2016

Booth Set-Up or Tear-Down Etiquette

I'm sure we have annoyed people in our 20-plus years of participating in all kinds of events.  Some organizers plan ahead for set-up and tear-down, which really helps, while others are completely unaware of the fact that 100 trucks and vans will be arriving at one time, all aiming for 2 doorways. 

I've always thought that *everyone* knows better than to dawdle once a vehicle is in place, but yesterday as we were trying to load up, a friend who volunteered with an org. for the afternoon, and hasn't been in that line-up of tired, wet, frustrated vendors who just want to go home, stopped by on her way out to chat.  It suddenly dawned on me that just maybe the people who don't know better, just don't know better.  Maybe they AREN'T just doing it because they think they're more important than anyone else!

When you get there, it's pretty simple.  Pull up, unload, move vehicle.  Bam.  Over the years we've acquired a couple helpful pieces of equipment - like small hand trucks - that fold up and fit easily in the vehicle. 
Remember to pack so that the hand truck(s) can be pulled out and loaded without too much trouble.  No need to double the lifting, right?  We have all of our stuff in stacking bins, so that all gets UNpacked first, then tables, tablecovering bin, and finally the tent and chairs.
Consider the order you'll be needing the items AS YOU PACK AND UNPACK THE VEHICLE.

To me, packing to go home is more difficult.  There are the plants you've purchased, probably some trash from fair food, extra shoes, and multiple day festivals just have more and more debris.  So here's how we do that - unless it's raining or a severe thunderstorm is on the horizon, in which case all bets are off...
About 2 hours before the end of most shows, things have slowed down. 
- We start looking around and collecting any trash that needs to go out.
- Next is gathering anything very important.  A note with a name/email that needs to be addressed from home, subscription forms (for me), wholesale orders (for my sister), and stuff like that gets stuck into our baskets.  We each take a large basket.  Into those go our purses, phones, special paperwork, extra shoes... anything that we want to keep track of and if the car isn't unloaded that night, the basket can go inside when we get home.
- Then we begin to consolidate.  For instance, I want all of the incense items in one container, and NOT with a tea or anything that might absorb those scents.  So all of the incense, incense burners, charcoals, etc., are combined in one place.  Sometimes we'll have duplicate displays if we have an L-shape, and we put stuff together.  We're still open.  Still doing business, but just puttering.  Maybe replacing delicate items into boxes, but still open.
- We pull out the empty containers and begin packing.  Carefully.  It's silly to rush too much (unless there is a storm approaching) and ruin items.  A few extra minutes can save a lot of money.  Stack the containers.
--- At this point if there are 2 of you, one can go for the car.
- Fold tablecloths and any displays. 
- Fold up tables.
- Take down the tent.

NOW.  If you're alone, go get the car.  Otherwise, it has probably just arrived.  You can throw that stuff inside in about 2 minutes. 
You haven't inconvenienced anyone.  It's actually EASIER to stack it first, and then pack the car, since the tent and tables need to go in first, and next year when you show up there's a chance your neighbors will smile and wave.

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